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The Future of Farming - Exploring Climate Smart Agriculture

Free online course: How can farming meet the challenges of climate change?

The Future of Farming is a free course structured over three weeks - allow three hours per week to complete it.

You can enrol at any time to access the materials and it is also run with support from the University of Reading during the specified period(s) above.

Who is it for?

There are no special requirements for this course. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about modern food production, farming and environmental challenges.

Languages

NEW! Materials are now available in French, German and Chinese. If you would like to view this course in English, please go to the FutureLearn course platform here

When you launch each topic on the course pages, you can select which language you’d like to view the learning materials in. You can switch at any time between French, German and Chinese.

Developer

The course was developed by the University of Readingwhich has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

Supporters

Support has been provided by EIT Climate-KIC Online Education (producing and hosting this version of the course) and from the CSA Booster a flagship initiative of EIT Climate-KIC’s Sustainable Land Use (SLU) programme.

Other contributors to the course content include:

  • The Regional Agency for environmental protection of Sardinia (ARPAS), Italy
  • National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Biometeorology (IBIMET), Italy
  • Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands
  • French National Institute for Agriculture Research (INRA), France.

Marie Dittmann

“I am an animal scientist, with a particular interest in nutrition, metabolism, and behaviour of animals, as well as agriculture.”

Martin Lukac

“I am an academic interested in effects of climate change on agriculture and forestry. I specialise in studying ecosystem productivity, carbon cycling and the link between diversity and stability.”

Dr Matthieu Arnoult

“I am a Research Fellow in the Agri-Environment, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading, and a member of the CSA Booster project”.

This course is FREE, with no time limits for accessing the learning materials.

Course benefits

Week 1: Introduction to Climate Smart Agriculture

  • Climate change and greenhouse gases
  • The interactions between climate change and agriculture
  • Food security
  • Climate Smart Agriculture: history, principles and examples
  • Different views on the food production system.

Week 2: Mitigation: Dairy Production

  • The basics of milk production, cow husbandry, digestion and herd management 
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and the possibilities for reducing them, within dairy farming 
  • The importance of plants for our atmosphere
  • Other forms of sustainable farming
  • Possible options for reducing energy consumption.

Week 3: Adaptation: Wine Production

  • The basics of wine production
  • General, sustainable crop management practices
  • Problems for the wine industry created by climate change
  • Possibilities for adapting the wine industry to climate change
  • Examples of how data can be used to help make decisions in agriculture
  • Critical views regarding Climate Smart Agriculture.
Learning Outcomes:
After completing this course, you'll be able to:
  • Investigate the interactions between climate change and agriculture, including basic facts about the effects of climate change and the most important greenhouse gases.
  • Describe the principles of Climate Smart Agriculture, in particular the three pillars of mitigation, adaptation and productivity.
  • Explore the basics of milk and wine production, possible future problems in these sectors and how they can be subject to adaptation and mitigation.
  • Discuss the complexity of food production systems, why it can be difficult to implement Climate Smart Agriculture and other forms of sustainable farming, and how the effects can be measured.
  • Reflect on how consumer behaviour, policies and regulations, and financial aspects influence the adoption of climate smart and other sustainable practices.

Welcome to the courseWelcome to the course

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This topic includes:
1.1 - What is the future of farming?
1.2 - Welcome to the course
1.3 - An introduction to climate change
1.4 - A very short history of agriculture

Agriculture and climate changeAgriculture and climate change

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This topic includes:
1.5 - Food systems and climate change
1.6 - Climate change: facts and figures
1.7 - Impact of agriculture on climate change
1.8 - Impact of climate change on agriculture
1.9 - What to prioritise?

Introduction to Climate Smart AgricultureIntroduction to Climate Smart Agriculture

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This topic includes:
1.10 - Introduction to Climate Smart Agriculture: concept and history
1.11 - The three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture
1.12 - What are the challenges worldwide?

What does it mean for the industry?What does it mean for the industry?

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This topic includes:
1.13 - Different voices
1.14- Why is adopting CSA complicated?
1.15 - The CSA booster
1.16 - Examples of CSA

What does this mean for the consumer?What does this mean for the consumer?

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This topic includes:
1.17- Value chains
1.18- What would make buying 'climate smart products' easier?

Review and reflectReview and reflect

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This topic includes:
1.19 - Test your knowledge
1.20 - Next week

WelcomeWelcome

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This topic includes:
2.1 - Welcome to week 2
2.2 - How much do you already know?
2.3 - Dairy farming: facts and figures

Dairy farming and climate changeDairy farming and climate change

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This topic includes:
2.4 - Dairy farming and climate change
2.5 - Deforestation, land-use change and tree planting
2.6 - Impact of climate change on dairy farming

Keeping cowsKeeping cows

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This topic includes:
2.7 - Cow husbandry and wellbeing
2.8 - Milk production: journey of a calf
2.9 - How do cows cope in a warming climate?
2.10 - Some like it hot.

Dairy farming and greenhouse gasesDairy farming and greenhouse gases

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This topic includes:
2.11 - Dairy cow digestion and methane production
2.12 - Lowering methane emissions
2.13 - Nitrogen efficiency in feed
2.14 - Cow manure
2.15 - Creating energy from dairy cow manure

Energy consumption on farmsEnergy consumption on farms

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This topic includes:
2.16 - Using renewable energy
2.17 - Energy consumption on farms
2.18 - Challenges of sustainable farming
2.19 - Comparing CSA to other forms of sustainable farming

What does this mean to the farmer and consumer?What does this mean to the farmer and consumer?

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This topic includes:
2.20 - What's the alternative to cow's milk?
2.21 - How do you choose which products to buy?
2.22 - How to measure the effects of mitigation

Review and reflectReview and reflect

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This topic includes:
2.23 - Test your knowledge
2.24 - Next week

WelcomeWelcome

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This topic includes:
3.1 - Welcome to week 3
3.2 - How much do you already know?
3.3 - Wine industry: facts and figures

Crop managementCrop management

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This topic includes:
3.4 - Soil management
3.5 - Fertilisers
3.6 - Pesticides

Viticulture and climate changeViticulture and climate change

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This topic includes:
3.7 - Effects of climate change on the European wine industry
3.8 - Effects of climate change on growing grapes
3.9 - What are the consequences on the wine industry?

Adapting to climate changeAdapting to climate change

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This topic includes:
3.10 - Possibilities for adaptation
3.11 - What are the options?
3.12 - Some like it hot
3.13 - Growing grapes in the UK
3.14 - Informing farming decisions for the future
3.15 - Considerations...More

Beyond the vineyardBeyond the vineyard

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This topic includes:
3.16 - PICSA: helping African farmers to make decisions
3.17 - Mitigating the environmental impact
3.18 - What can you do?

The futureThe future

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This topic includes:
3.19 - Critical views on CSA
3.20 - Test your knowledge
3.21 - Your thoughts and feedback
3.22 - What next?

Take the feedback surveyTake the feedback survey

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Open this topic to get a link to the end of course survey in your preferred language - French, German or English.
Learning Outcomes:
After completing this course, you'll be able to:
  • Investigate the interactions between climate change and agriculture, including basic facts about the effects of climate change and the most important greenhouse gases.
  • Describe the principles of Climate Smart Agriculture, in particular the three pillars of mitigation, adaptation and productivity.
  • Explore the basics of milk and wine production, possible future problems in these sectors and how they can be subject to adaptation and mitigation.
  • Discuss the complexity of food production systems, why it can be difficult to implement Climate Smart Agriculture and other forms of sustainable farming, and how the effects can be measured.
  • Reflect on how consumer behaviour, policies and regulations, and financial aspects influence the adoption of climate smart and other sustainable practices.